Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sunday In The Park With George

Sunday In The Park With George is a musical, words and music by Stephen Sondheim  inspired by the painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat.  It is one of Georges Seurat's most famous works, and is an example of pointillism, a technique of neo-impressionist painting using tiny dots of various pure colors, which become blended in the viewer's eye. It was developed by Georges Seurat with the aim of producing a greater degree of luminosity and brilliance of color.

Wikipedia says Sondheim has received an Academy Award; eight Tony Awards (more than any other composer, including a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre); eight Grammy Awards; a Pulitzer Prize, the Laurence Olivier Award, and a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom. Described by Frank Rich of The New York Times as "now the greatest and perhaps best-known artist in the American musical theater." His best-known works as composer and lyricist include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods. He wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy. Clearly his resume is substantial.

I've been a fan of Broadway Musicals since the first time I heard the soundtrack to Music Man. I'm a big fan of West Side Story, Camelot, The Fantastiks, Fiddler on the Roof, Paint Your Wagon and many many more.

One thing every musical I love includes is great music. Imagine that. Some good songs, like these from other shows

That said, while I find the painting that inspired Sondheim's work very interesting and  quite beautiful I find the musical Sondheim created wholly lacking. But, I see how it would appeal to hard-core musical fans. I suppose that makes me a fan of "popular" musicals - much as I am fond of certain classical music - the popular classics. Popular that is to more common fans as opposed to hard-core fans. And I do not like opera in any way, shape or form though I do appreciate it's place in this world. And while I enjoy stage productions in general, I need a better reason (reward) for the price (risk) of a Broadway ticket these days than is offered by this weeks LBC topic.

That's it for this week. See ya next week with  anew LBC topic.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Of Pumpkins, Witches, And The Whole Nine Yards

Good 'ol Lin has come up with another fun topic for us here at the LBC.  I suspect she channeled her inner Charles Schultz. Or Charlie Brown.  Maybe a bit outta season but fitting still.

Knowing Lin I suspect she is hoping for some semi-serious commentary but Halloween is easily one of the most popular holidays in this neck of the woods.

Pumpkins.  Gotta love pumpkins. Especially the giant pumpkins grown for those seasonal contests. They taste pretty good too. I enjoy a good pumpkin latte. And the pumpkin pies. Yum. And fall. Halloween comes in the fall along with Charlie Brown's other love - baseball - in the guise of the World Series. Charlie Brown has always been a baseball fan

I was down in the dumps with him as well after that 62 series. Fortunately we - the San Francisco Giants - have more than made up for that disappointment bt winning three of the last five World Series Championships.

Now witches are a subject of a different color -  black or white.  That color references their magic - dark magic or white magic. White is the good kind - or so my magic muse Harry Dresden says. Harry is a wizard private eye in Chicago and he knows this stuff.  There's a clever article that discusses the mythology of witches - check it out if you are curious by clicking here.

Now the whole nine yards is an all ecompaassing term for everything related to the  topic. That must include kids going out trick-or-treating and collecting copious quantities of candy. I'd wager the day after Halloween - if a school day - has a significant  number of child absences for candy flu. Sadly today our society has refreshed to the point where ids are short-changed these days. When I was a kid in Pueblo, Colorado I collected large quantities of home-made treats that were superior in every way to store bought candy. There were popcorn balls, rice krispie like treats, candy and caramel apples and the like. It was great fun. Kids still have fun dressing up and collecting candy but it is simply not what it was.

Hallloween is also the time for costume parties. Adults get to dress up in cot=stumes and have some fu, The trick-or-treating in my experience  is typically replaced by s quick stroll to the bar for an adult beverage, I mean who needs all that sugar anyway?

Of course there's a tune that gets huge radio play during Halloween season - here it is done karaoke style by my late friend  RJHC - an adversary/friend from the days when I ran a sixties music board. RIP RJ -

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Helen Mirren, Indian entrepreneurial spirit, the immigration experience and food are a recipe for a fun movie experience. This thoroughly enjoyable movie takes  viewers on a journey that begins with tragedy - the destruction of a family run restaurant and the death of the mother - the chef whose magic ion the kitchen made the place successful.

The family packs up and heads off to Europe to start all over again. After a brief stop in England they end up in France where they purchase a failed restaurant that happens to be just across the street from a successful Michelin starred place run by Helen Mirren. The sub plots concern the relationships between the father - played by Om Puri and Helen Mirren and the son and Indian chef Hassan played by Manish Dayal and the sous chef at Mirrern's restaurant played  by Charlotte Le Bon. Essentially the movie is about Hassan's pursuit of his dream as it intertwines with his father's drive.

I rate this movie 4 chef knives out of five. It was thoroughly entertaining with many laughs and several tugs at the heart strings. It shows the value  strength of family and the immigrant experience bring to the table.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Breakfast - LBC topic

Breakfast. Literally - break the fast - otherwise known as the fast that began with your last meal of the day until your first meal the next day. Allegedly the most important meal of the day. The one that many restaurants and fast food places stop serving at 11:00 AM. GRRRRRRRRRRRR.

You can tell by that last comment I take umbrage with the decision to stop serving breakfast at 11.  Why? Quite simply because the typical breakfast  here in the good old U.S.A. typically includes several items from the following (and once in a while perhaps all of them) - eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, English muffins and fried potatoes. That is quite frankly a list of some of my favorite foods and why the he double hockey sticks shouldn't they be available whenever you want them?

Mickey Ds has recognized the value of serving breakfast any time of the day.

Yep - that's me. A real food rebel.  If you're gonna break a rule make it a big one.  I often have breakfast for dinner. And - truth be told - I like cold leftovers from traditional dinners as breakfast.  Hmmm. Now here is something to ponder - what is the minimum time not eating can be called a fast? If it can be - and I see no reason why it cannot - be say four hours or so than every meal could - nay SHOULD be called breakfast. Of course that might just throw restaurants that only serve breakfast into a quandary. To that I offer a hearty fuggum (this is a family friendly blog).

The ideal breakfast? Gotta be a breakfast burrito. I remember the first time I ever had one - it was February of 1977 and I was managing my very first RadioShack store in a place called Manhattan Beach, California. One bite and a lifelong love affair was started. Scrambled eggs, ham, bacon and hash browns wrapped in a flour tortilla. Perfect for commuters - even when my commute from the tiny restaurant to the store was simply a stroll across Sepulveda Blvd. Talk about the good old days.

Moving away from the culinary aspects of breakfast, there have been a couple of excellent breakfast movies - each a classic to the generations depicted. There is Breakfast at Tiffany's and the iconic Breakfast Club. Each film produced a classic song - Moon River from Tiffany's and Don't You Forget About Me from Breakfast Club.

Actually lets get back to the culinary aspects - ahem. I am late today with this post and it is almost 11 - time for breakfast.

See ya next week,

Friday, January 8, 2016

Value of a Degree HS & College - LBC Topic 01/08/16

This weeks topic sprang from the retired mind of yours truly. You see - I have a BA in Political SCience with a focus on International relations. I am recently retired from a 30+ year career at  what was once a major electronics retailer. Political Science. Electronics.

I believe one should constantly be in learning mode and isn't that what school is all about?

I was a 3-sport jock in high school. As such I had no time for the vocational education classes that were then available - stuff like welding, auto shop and the like. I took early morning PE (7:AM) and my afternoons were filled with practices - football season segued directly  into wrestling season which ended a week after baseball practices began. I also worked part time at a fast food joint.

Clearly I was working before I earned a HS diploma. So does that render  a HS education useless? Vocational class students exited HS with a marketable skill,  Regular students exited HS with the required education to work in the early stages of a rapidly growing fast-food industry or a check mark in the "Required to go to college box" in life. Then came the tests which supposedly test the value of one's HS education - the ACT and the SAT tests. Frankly I goofed off the last half of my senior year -  I did very little schoolwork as I had accumulated the requisite credits to graduate and the GPA that calculated your position in your graduating class was calculated after the first half of the senior year.  I did enough work to stay eligible for wrestling and baseball season and made up for being a regular student for the previous 3.5 years.I was accepted to several colleges  including the University of California and had a guaranteed spot in an Ivy League school so my years spent in HS were what I suppose could be called a success. Everyone else I knew that stopped their formal education went on to have happy, productive lives for the most part. A couple that did not complete HS also lived happy, productive lives. At least one friend that barely graduated - he accomplished the   mimimumrequirements to graduate - earned a PHD. Clearly ol' Pete is the exception to the rule.That said, I think a HS education or the equivalent GED is a necessity to survive these days. Add that to a valid vocational degree from a legitimate accredited vocational institute offers the framework for a productive life.

Now college is a horse of a different color altogether.. When I was in school a liberal arts degree was something to be proud of. These days liberal arts students and their degrees are vilified on a daily basis by the right wings here in this  country. Some of that disdain is brought about by the arrogance of young, enthusiastic students - exactly the same thing I went through. Our society is so polarized it seems there is no patience for anyone with an opinion different than our own. While my uber-conservative John Birch Society card-carrying namesake uncle Chuck and I
(he's the tall one) would spend hours arguing about the world and everything in it he never disrespected me - just my ideas. He nearly always ended with a comment that essentially said that businesses only look at a degree as meaning the person was willing to make a commitment to learn something properly. I now realize that with a few notable exceptions college degrees on the surface are simply another step in the direction of life.

 Generally speaking, the better educated one is the better chances for success  one will encounter.Exceptions to that rule are few and far between, though it seems almost to be the opposite in the technology field where great innovation comes from those most often held back by the restrictions of formal education. Think Woznial, Jobs, Gates and the like. But look at the folks that made those ideas work - they were more likely than not formally educated.

So - when those lazy, hazy days of summer are near, and

remember to go back in the fall and finish what you started!

See ya next week, same bat time, same bat channel.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Once Upon a Time

It's a new year. Once upon a time there was a group of people around the world that decided it would b a fun idea to have multiple people write on the same topic every Friday and thus was born the LBC.. Three or four years ago I stumbled across the group while looking for my old friend from RadioShack - Conrad. Conrad was a founding member of the LBC.  Shortly thereafter I joined and it has been an interesting and fun ride.  The players have changed and the size fluctuates but we are still a  fun loving, opinionated and lively group. No wall flowers here.

Of course once upon a time there was a great song called Once Upon a Time - a true crooners tune if ever there was one.

And who among us did not hear a bedtime story that started "Once upon a time"? I liked the scary ones best which  probably explains my attachment to the current TV show Grimm - LOL.

That's it for this weeks topic. See ya next time